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Bookmakers And Betting Exchanges: Which Platform Should You Choose?

As a sports bettor you have some important decisions to make at the beginning of your journey. The industry has developed to such an extent that today bettors have dozens of different platforms available to them.

In recent years, betting exchanges have steadily been gaining in popularity, luring lots of customers from regular sportsbooks. So in this article we'll tell you how these varying platforms differ, which will hopefully help make your decisions that much easier.

What Is A Traditional Sportsbook?

It’s safe to say that almost anyone with the slightest interest in sport has wanted to put a bit of cash on a game at some point  and will therefore also know what a classic bookmaker is. To play with these bookies all you have to do is register your account and place a bet at the odds given by a platform. In this way, you compete directly against a bookmaker.

No matter which market you’ve chosen, if your bet comes through you win and get a payout. If your bet loses, then the bookmaker wins and takes the money you wagered. Bookies make their money both from punters' losses or by taking a cut of the odds instead of a players' winnings, which means many customers are unaware that they are not being offered 'real' odds.

What Is A Betting Exchange?

Betting exchanges operate differently in that you’re not playing against a bookie, you’re in fact facing other bettors. You are the one to decide on your preferred odds whilst placing the bet, while other players decide to match your bet (or not). The loser then pays out to the winner. Exchanges themselves are earning money by taking different percent commission of the bettors’ winnings.

The main difference between these platforms is that although odds are displayed by the exchange, they do not 'fix' these odds, rather they leave it to the bettors to decide if they like the odds displayed or want to change them. This means that you can often get more favorable odds with exchanges than with traditional bookies.

Another difference between betting exchanges and traditional bookies is the type of odds. Sportsbooks use different odds depending on the region they operate in. For example, British odds are displayed as fractions (1/1) whereas in America they may be displayed as moneyline (+100) or decimal odds (2.0) on different sites. However, betting exchanges only use decimal odds.

Examples Of Using A Betting Exchange

Imagine you want to place a bet on a Roland Garros quarter final match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. As both are top athletes, bookies tend to consider their chances of winning as equal which means that a variety of Asian Handicap bets will be low.

If you want to make it fun, you can use a betting exchange to place a bet on, say, Nadal winning with a -5.5 handicap with ridiculous 7.50 odds. You just need to find one player who will agree to match your bet, and then you will have a chance to win a decent amount of cash.

With betting exchanges players are free to set their own odds, giving them the opportunity to win more money.

Another aspect of using exchanges is betting on the underdogs. Imagine you’re a Leeds United fan, and your favorite side is about to face Manchester City in the Premier League. Bookmakers are very unlikely to offer a -1 handicap on Leeds winning, as they will very likely be considering Mancunians clear favorites. However, no one can stop you from creating this bet on an exchange and trying to find someone adventurous enough to take up the offer.

Pros And Cons Of Betting Exchanges

In addition to the above-mentioned point about the odds, another advantage of betting exchanges is the feeling of competition. Going up against other punters adds an additional element of interaction and competition, which can make the entire sports betting experience more enjoyable than when going up against a bookie.

Another strong advantage of betting exchanges is lack of margin. Bookmakers lay down their share at the stage of forming the odds in order not to operate at a loss, whereas on exchanges the odds are fair. Moreover, exchanges do not use restrictions like a limit on the maximum bet amount, maximum winnings, etc. It is also worth mentioning that there are a large number of exchanges, which makes it possible to choose the optimal conditions for betting.

However, it's not all a bed of roses. For example, one significant disadvantage of betting exchanges is lack of competition. Traditional sportsbooks clearly have the lion's share of betting, so there is every chance that you simply won't find a buyer for your bet.

It’s also necessary to remember that really attractive odds are usually provided for popular events only, so if your preferences in sports betting are exotic, then this platform is probably not for you. Moreover, the market's formation for the exchanges comes with a delay compared to sportsbooks. The betting exchanges’ sites are also often not as easy to use as the bookies’ resources.

Pros And Cons Of Traditional Bookmakers

While the odds you can find on bookies’ sites are usually lower than the ones offered by exchanges, traditional sportsbooks still have their own advantages. Since bookmakers have many more customers, which provides them with a consistently higher income, they often offer their customers bonuses and promotions which is rare for betting exchanges. The liquidity is also higher, so with a bookmaker, you are unlikely to get into a situation where you will have nothing to bet on.

On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages (besides the odds). Bookmakers often set various limits. This can be a wager limit for those on a winning streak, a closure of the market on a certain event, etc.


As you can see, nowadays both sportsbooks and betting exchanges have a lot to offer to bettors. The choice of the platform depends on what you value more. If you’re looking for an endless variety of possible bets and bonuses, then you should probably stick with traditional bookmakers. But if you’re seeking better odds and an opportunity to compete against fellow bettors, then you may want to try out betting exchanges.

Gamble Responsibly

No matter which platform you choose for gambling, it is always necessary for you to be financially responsible. Set your limits and do not push over them, and always remember that gambling can and should be a great hobby, not the main source of your income. Always choose legal platforms and feel free to use responsible gambling tools they provide. By the way, legal betting exchanges provide these tools, too.

Anton Spesivtsev
Anton Spesivtsev
1 December 2022 13:22